Genesis 22:14. So Abraham called the name of that place, “The Lord will provide”; as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided.”
Genesis 22 is the climax of Abraham’s life and maybe the whole book of Genesis. The story thus far has brought us to this defining moment.
Abraham and Sarah waited years for God to fulfill his promise to them. “Your own son will be your heir.” “You will be a great nation.” “All nations on earth will be blessed through your son.” And they waited, and waited, and waited.
Finally, the son of their old age has come. Isaac. He’s literally a miracle. He’s a walking, talking testimony to God’s faithfulness. He’s living laughter. The covenant made flesh.
And they lived happily ever after.
Not quite. Genesis 22 tells the story of God’s shocking command to Abraham to sacrifice his son. To kill his hope. To put his life to death.
Genesis 22:2. “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.”
How could Abraham be expected to do such a thing? And how could God even ask?
Our usual answer is that God is testing Abraham’s devotion. That God didn’t really intend to let Isaac die. He just wanted to see if Abraham would obey. “If I asked you to do this really hard thing, would you do it?”
But is this the best answer? Is this really just a test of devotion? Hasn’t Abraham already proven his loyalty? Leaving Ur? Decades of waiting? Circumcision for goodness sake! Weren’t these tests enough?
The ram gives us the answer. If it’s just a test of Abraham’s devotion to God, then why the ram?
Genesis 22:13. And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son.
In dramatic fashion God stays the knife of Abraham, stopping Isaac’s death, but instead of simply sending Abraham and Isaac on their way home, God provides a ram for sacrifice. What does this tell us? It tells us that this was more than just a test. It tells us that there is an actual need for a sacrifice. That Isaac really did need to die. A life really does need to be offered to God to make atonement for Abraham’s sins. There’s a ram because Abraham needs a substitute.
Genesis 22 is a test, but less of devotion and more of dependency. We are reminded of what it means to be alive. What it means to live as a human rather than as a god. To be human is to be fully dependent upon God. After years of walking with God, Abraham has proven his devotion. But does Abraham understand his dependence upon God? Does he understand his need for a sacrifice? God is his friend, but is God his savior?
Mount Moriah makes the need of Abraham very clear. Isaac was not Abraham’s greatest need. Barrenness was not his biggest problem. And his son is not his savior. In his willingness to sacrifice Isaac, Abraham proves he understands this. He understands his dependence upon a substitute. He cries for help.
Yesterday: Jack’s cry for help is real. Is yours?
But it won’t come through Isaac.
The Lord WILL provide. In the future. The true provision was yet to come. The greater Isaac, Jesus, will carry his cross of wood up the same mountain 2000 years later. But the executioner’s hand will not be stayed. No ram will take his place that day, for he is the ram. Jesus is our eternal atonement. The savior we all need.
Life is not first an ongoing test of our devotion to God. It is first a test of our dependency upon God. Not do you love God? But do you need a savior? A substitute for when you fail to love God? “To live is Christ” is to live from a deep dependency on God’s provision of a savior. A substitute life. Christ’s life. The Lord HAS provided. And it’s Christ in you.
What are you depending on today? What is your functional savior?
Christ in you
How does your union with Christ prove your great need but also God’s great provision?
You in Christ
How can you live from dependency first and then devotion? Why is it so important that this be the order?